A light forecast played with the minds of all the 110 entrants for the week leading up to the 2013 Lighthouse to Leighton. The off water talk was almost entirely speculative, with the riders, and especially the locals, all trying to strike fear into their rivals. Is there weed on the course? What will the waves be like? Which way do I go around the ships? Increasing the stakes again, a number of international hotshots such as french Alex Caizergues, the current kite speed record holder and former L2L winner, and german Florian Gruber, current Kite Racing World Champion had brought specialised equipment from around the world to tackle the event. The event also coincided with the Kiteboard Racing Oceanic Championships which saw 47 Men and woman drawn to Perth for a shot at the massive prize pool.
The Seabreeze had already started to kick in by the time the competitors boarded the ferry across to Rottnest Island. The sea state was unusually calm, and the wind angle made the race almost directly across the wind, rather than a slight downwinder as in previous years. This saw many of the competitors opting to use hydrofoil boards and full scale race boards, for most the first time these boards have been used for the crossing.
After the safety briefing and the collection of the flares, the wind across the channel passed the magical 15 knot mark. The stunning coastline of Rottnest Island quickly filled up with kites, with most between 11m and 19m. With 10 minutes to go, most competitors were already out and speed testing.
Most kites hit the line with speed and started the 19km journey with a cracking pace. Many of the raceboard and hydrofoil riders suffered early with lines of weed leading to some big crashes. However these riders regained some speed with their choice of weapon once the weed had cleared. Around 2km into the race Aussie-German Marvin Baumeister took the lead from Florian Gruber flying though the field on his 13m Ozone Edge and Temavento Slalom board. A later fall saw the leading pack again catch up and keep the pressure on. However once Marvin had settled into the groove his speed was unmatched. Skirting around the front of the container ship Marvin crossed the line with style in 23 Minutes 50 seconds, a new race record. He was followed by Florian Gruber, local sailing legend Torvar Mirsky, Pete Morgan and Jordan Girdis, all on 2013 Ozone Edges and big boards with big fins.
Tim Turner, the L2L crew and WAKSA need to be congratulated again on putting on another stunning event, which continues to attract some of the best kiters from around the globe. For some the speculation and secret board design has already begun in preparation for next years race.